I play a lot of video games. It has been a favorite hobby of mine ever since I can remember. There are new games coming out all the time and as someone who likes to play pretty much everything, it can be difficult to not go spending way too much money on video games. When I made up my mind that I was going to get out of debt and get on a budget, I knew that some things were going to have to change, and some of my spending was going to have to get cut. For the past few months, I have been finding out what works for me when it comes to living on a budget while also being able to play all the new games I want to play.
Before I was on my new financial plan, I didn’t really have a set limit of how much money I could spend on video games. It seems like there is always something new to buy, whether it is a new console, new accessories for my consoles or my computer, or just the games for all those systems in general. Even with games alone, the numbers can rack up pretty quick if you aren’t mindful of how much you are spending. When I started writing out a plan for my budget, I knew that this was one of my main areas where I could save a lot of money every month. I went from spending sometimes hundreds of dollars every month to less than $50 a month, and I still get to play all the games I want to play. Now saving all this money definitely doesn’t come without some trade-offs, but it is more than worth it to be able to enjoy my hobby while not screwing up my financial goals.
I want to share a few of the things that I have found to be very helpful when trying to save money while playing video games, and also some lessons I’ve learned.
If you play a lot of console games, consider using Gamefly.
Gamefly and video game rental services are nothing new, but I never even considered trying them before I got on a budget. Currently, I have an Xbox One, an Xbox 360, and a Wii U. I really enjoy playing almost anything, and before I was probably buying around two to three games a month on average. At $60 a piece for new games, this can start to get really expensive. With Gamefly, I pay around $25 a month for a two disc plan, and there is no limit to the amount of games I can play. I can get games for all of my consoles, play through them at my own pace, and all for one monthly fee, which comes in really handy when adding a category like this to the budget spreadsheet. The downside? Well, I’ve had to learn a little patience, as it takes around three days for games to ship, and sometimes if a popular game is all checked out, I either have to wait for it to be available, or play something else first. For me, this is not much of a problem as I play a lot of different games, and something I should be learning anyway, as patience is valuable when trying to cut back on spending money.
Wait for sales and discounts if you are going to purchase.
This is probably the hardest one for me, as I have been accustomed to buying what I want when I want it for so long. While I do use Gamefly for most of my games, there are still some console games that I would rather own outright instead of rent, and I also play some games on PC from time to time. This is where being patient comes into play once again. I know that the desire to play a new game right when it releases is a strong one, but just consider the money that can be saved by waiting a few months after the hype has died down and the game is discounted. If you play PC games, the savings are even greater, as online retailers like Steam have great sales all the time on great games. While I don’t purchase that many games anymore, you’ll hardly ever see me paying full price for any retail game anymore.
Find some old stuff to trade in.
If you have been buying and playing video games for years and years, chances are, you have some things that are worth some money that you are no longer using. Go through your old game libraries to see if you have anything that would be worth trading in or selling. Selling things yourself usually is going to have a better return, but trading things in for store credit at places like Gamestop isn’t too bad if they are running a promo. I have used both methods from time to time and almost always put the proceeds towards new games or accessories. If your on a tight budget, this is a good way to free up some extra cash if you really just can’t wait for a new game to go on sale. I just did this a few weeks ago, as I am a sucker for Super Smash Brothers.
Play free games.
With more and more free to play games coming out, sometimes I can enjoy a good game for weeks and weeks and not pay a cent! If you enjoy games like League of Legends or Dota, it is pretty easy to spend countless hours with these games while never paying any money. The same is true for so many other free to play games that make use a cash shops which you are not required to use. This applies more to the PC crowd, as there aren’t quite as many free to play games on consoles yet. I’m also going to put games like Diablo 3 in this category as well. While it does require you to pay up front for the game itself, it doesn’t exactly have an end, and can provide endless value for people that enjoy the genre. It is expected in today’s market to pay $60 for a game and then maybe, if your lucky, to get 20-30 hours of content out of it. This is one of the reasons why I switched to renting games, especially single player ones. Looking for games with great value based on replayability or competitive multiplayer can be a good way to get your gaming fix while not spending much or any money! Also, it can be a great way to have something to enjoy while your waiting for those discounts to happen.
Patience, patience, patience.
I think that patience can be applied to almost all the things I’ve talked about here, but it is so important when it comes to saving lots of money. Practicing the act of instant gratification does wonders to destroy your financial plans. New games will always come out, and most of the time, playing them the day they come out does nothing expect prove that marketing works. If anything, you might even get a better experience by waiting, as developers will have patched and fixed any bugs that the games had a launch. I understand that sometimes all of your friends are getting the new Call of Duty and you don’t want to be left behind. This is an opportunity to use one of the previous ideas and go rent it, or if you think your going to be playing it for months, find some things to trade in, or start putting some money aside each month before the game releases. Saving lots of money while playing lots of video games requires patience in some form.
There are lots of things you can do to save money while playing a lot of video games, some probably not mentioned here, as these are the things that work for me. The balance of what works and what doesn’t will be different for everyone, but the act of having patience is universal. So if any other gamers out there are reading this, know that you can achieve your financial goals, and you don’t need to give up playing all the latest games this year! All that is needed is a plan of action. Think about what strategy works best for the games you want to play, and how you can save the most money!